Revd John Proctor, the United Reformed Church’s general secretary, turns to Luke’s account of the outcast and overlooked shepherds.
Shepherds were out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night
Shepherds lived on the edge – the edge of town where the land opens up, the edge of the desert with just enough grass to support sheep, the edge between settled life and not quite belonging. And for these Bethlehem shepherds, the edge of a wonderful moment in history.
Shepherds came to Jesus that night – from the edge into Bethlehem, from the fields to Mary and Joseph, from work to worship.
At the very start of his life, we see Jesus with people outside the mainstream. And that’s how the gospel story goes on. The blessing Jesus brings reaches the lowly and humble of the world, the overlooked and ordinary folk. God stirs in places many do not notice. God values people from whom the world steps aside.
So we may still work and pray for the good news of Jesus to be heard on the edges of life: among the hurting and lonely; by those whom others find hard to love and trust; for people who have come to live in this land but do not feel at home here; by the many who would rejoice to work and cannot find it; for any who feel branded by an old mistake; by some for whom hope has died.
Jesus is not just for people who feel that life is fine, who connect well with those around them, whose lives are fulfilled and busy.
The good news is for those on the edges too, for the exile, the estranged and the elbowed out.
And when our own lives sit on the edge – between confidence and fear, between failure and hope, between sorrow and joy – Jesus is for us.